The Jaguars' opponent this Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks, have been one of the major disappointments of the season. Everyone expected that Mike Holmgren would have the Seahawks in title contention, but the Seahawks are 3-7 and already playing for next season. Why? What's gone wrong?
Failure always falls hardest on the quarterback, and young Jon Kitna is bearing the blame for the Seahawks' 4-13 record since leading the Seahawks to an 8-2 start last season. Kitna, clearly, has not developed as Holmgren thought he would, though Holmgren's reputation as a quarterback-maker was such that we never considered the possibility the position would be his greatest need this deep into his second year as coach.
Is it? What about that defense, which ranks 30th overall, and 28th against the run and against the pass? What has a Seahawks defense loaded with big names done to help buy time for Kitna's development? The answer is, nothing.
There are those personnel men in the league who believe Kitna is salvageable. Some believe Kitna will blossom into a more-than-competent starting quarterback, if he hooks up with a team with a sound defense and running game, that doesn't ask him to be the star of the team.
Yes, quarterback is the most important position in football; maybe in all of sports. However, there are teams who are winning without a big-time contribution from their quarterback. Miami is 7-2, but Jay Fiedler is the AFC's 11th-ranked passer at 74.7. At 6-3, the Jets are right behind the Dolphins, and Vinny Testaverde has a 72.5 passer rating. Pittsburgh won five straight and their passing attack is ranked 30th in the league.
On the flip side, 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia has the second-highest passer rating in the league at 100.2, but the 49ers are 2-8.
The Seahawks are expected to go hard in free agency for a quarterback, and it's only logical that a better passer will make them a better team. Then there's the possibility the quarterback position isn't there greatest problem, and, in fact, Kitna may not be as bad as they think.
It'll make for interesting observation.
Here's 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Seahawks.
- See how they run--The Seahawks have allowed big runners to have big games, and Fred Taylor should have the same.
- See how they pass--Seattle is just as bad against the pass as they are against the run. If ever there was a reason to have a "good mix," the Seahawks are it.
- Use the same gameplan--Yeah, the one the Jaguars used to beat the Cowboys should work perfectly against Seattle.
- Beware of matchups--Even though the Seahawks' rankings on defense are bad, they'll present some difficult matchups for the Jaguars. Their best pass-rusher, Michael Sinclair, will be going against Todd Fordham, who will be making just his second start. Also, rookie guard Brad Meester gets defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, and outside linebacker Chad Brown was always a tough opponent for Tony Boselli when Brown played for the Steelers.
- Over the middle, again--The Seahawks' safeties are weak and opponents have done some business in the middle of the field. Tight end Kyle Brady should continue his pass-catching hot streak.
- Stop Watters, Alexander--The running back combination of veteran Rickey Watters and rookie Shaun Alexander is the strength of the Seahawks offense. First and foremost, the Jaguars must stop them.
- Don't let Holmgren dink and dunk--He loves the high-percentage, possession passing game. The Jaguars linebackers must be up to the task.
- Rush the quarterback--The Seahawks have three first-round draft choices on their offensive line, but Seahawks quarterbacks have been sacked 36 times, only two fewer than the record-setting pace the Jaguars are on.
- Start fast--The Seahawks are making one of the longest trips in the NFL and, when the ball is kicked off, their body clocks will be reading 10 a.m.
- Focus on three--Forget about a seven-game season. How about a three-game season? Win the next three and the schedule says the Jaguars will be in serious playoff contention.